Sara Kong is a freelance producer and creative who loves being experimental and collaborative to create new and fresh ideas together. She believes in taking on work that challenges every rule in the book while still delivering an important message. Currently, she works with a number of other creatives such as Amani Azlin, Shah Azman and Matthew Chow at Project Underscore, a Creative Collective based in Kuala Lumpur to push the boundaries of their creativity.
What made you want to dive into your current role?
I have a background in advertising and I never planned to become a Producer. After graduating from University, I interned at an Ad Agency and it was not really what I expected it to be. Around that time, a production house called We Are Kix was looking for a Producer and I decided to give it a shot and applied for the position. To me, it was no brainer as I wanted to try something new and I had a few friends at We Are Kix.
What is the favourite thing you enjoy about your job?
A big part of my job is to manage people. The great thing about being a Producer is that no two projects are the same. Every project has a different set of problems that needs to be solved and it feels satisfying whenever I get to solve these different kinds of problems.
As a Producer, I also have the chance to meet and work with a lot of new people. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I had a full time job as I would be meeting the same people for a long period of time. There is also a weird bond that everyone shares on set as we all have a similar goal in giving our all in getting the job done - which is a reason why I continue to do what I love.
How do you define your style? Where does the inspiration for your style come from?
In my line of work, it is difficult to have a unique and original style of my own as we often try to emulate and adapt what we are inspired by. Personally, I am still trying to look for my own style and identity as a Producer. I certainly enjoy being experimental and I like to push the boundaries of my creative ability.
In that sense, I am on a constant lookout for new inspiration. Recently, I have been inspired with NOWNESS - a global video channel showing the best in culture across different kinds of mediums. We at Project Underscore are looking to get our work out on that platform since they launch a new platform called NOWNESS Asia that focuses on Asian Art and Culture.
Another one of my sources of inspiration and motivation to do better is my friend/mentor, Alea Rahim (@alea89). I had the pleasure to know from my first project at We Are Kix (Yo! MTV Raps) and since then we have worked together on multiple shoots and projects. Along the way, she taught me about learning from past mistakes and using that experience to reflect in a positive manner. That is one of the really cool things about production - you never know when you will bump into someone who ends up becoming your friend for the long run.
What were some of the lessons you learned throughout your creative journey?
As a Producer, I try to see what my clients want and I do my best to cater to their preference and taste. Since I work with a lot of people, I had to learn how to adapt to different kinds of personalities and working styles. I also learned how to be patient when things don’t go my way as there are a lot of unexpected things such scheduling conflicts that can happen during production. It is my job to deal with these issues and ensure that the production process flows seamlessly.
As I have recently switched to become a freelancer, I have also discovered that it is important to fight and stand my own ground. Occasionally, there are clients who may be pushy or bossy and it can be difficult to work with them. Through these experiences, I learned when I should put my foot down and fight my ideas, identity and creative voice.
My end goal is to bridge the gap between older and younger creatives to form the best mix and expand that creative power within the creative industry.
What was the weirdest thing you ever shot or created?
Recently, we shot the Ana Abu Alam Campaign. It was one of Project Underscore's biggest Indie shoots and we had around 10 to 15 talents set. For this shoot, we decided to twist the concept of brand loyalty and went with the idea of creating a cult where people who were loyal to the brand would grow said cult. We wanted to use this concept as an abstract for ANA ABU to break out of the traditional norm as they sold a lot of Malay clothes. The challenge was to not make the idea sound too religious so we had to manage the tone of our campaign.
Since we mainly shoot the campaign video outdoors, I was really worried about the weather as we had a full day shoot. We ended up doing a lot of scouting for different locations to find a place which had the best light and it also rained on the day of the shoot. Nonetheless, it was fun working with the different people on set.
What do you hope to achieve with your work?
With every work that I put out, I would love for the process and end product to speak to the people that are watching and experiencing my work. Recently, I have been working with my partner, Lobach on a new collaboration called Nihao Kailan (@nhkl.co) and one of our new projects is a wordplay on the phrase, ‘Cari Makan, Cari Makna’. The concept was when we cari makan, we would also want to cari makna. The audience is also free to find their own meaning of the phrase.
We were also thinking of releasing T-shirts with the phrase, Cari Makan Cari Makna to connect with other like-minded who are struggling between finding their livelihood and finding purpose in their pursuit of stable livelihood. With this project, we are excited to see how people attempt to balance between things that help them make a living (Cari Makan) and things that help them find meaning in what they do (Cari Makna).
My end goal is to bridge the gap between older and younger creatives to form the best mix and expand that creative power within the creative industry. In a way, it is similar to what Cult Creative is doing - a platform for like minded talents and creative to interact and collaborate. I believe that the clash between different generations will help to produce a wide variety of opinions, concepts and perspectives which we can visualise into actual productions.